Prosecutor, JCPD investigating double homicide

Two men shot and killed Monday night on Van Nostrand Avenue in Jersey City were the ninth and 10th homicides this year in Jersey City and Hudson County.
Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory announced that around 11:45 p.m. Monday night Jersey City police officers responded to a report of an individual shot on Van Nostrand Avenue between Bergen Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive, according to a story on Jamal Cooks, 22, and Shawn Spencer, 21, both of Jersey City, were found with gunshot wounds, he said, Cooks with a gunshot wound to his torso, and Spencer shot in the head and shoulder.
Police believe both men were shot while inside a vehicle, Gregory said.
Both men were rushed to the Jersey City Medical Center. Cooks was pronounced dead at around 1:30 a.m., Gregory said. Spencer was pronounced dead at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The prosecutor’s office is investigating the incident with the assistance of the Jersey City Police Department, Gregory said. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit at (201) 915-1345 or by email at All contacts will be kept confidential.

Tax abatement for $40M hotel gets preliminary okay

Jersey City officials are justifying a proposed 20-year tax break for a $40 million Hyatt House hotel planned for Exchange Place in Jersey City on the grounds that they are encouraging permanent job creation and enhancing tax revenues.
The deal, which received initial approval from the City Council Wednesday night, must be approved one more time by the council before it is final, according to a story in
If the abatement is adopted, the developers, North Carolina-based Concord Hospitality, would give $286,526 to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The city says the deal would bring in $816,932 annually, versus the $246,378 in taxes the property owner currently pays on the site.
The abatement was opposed by Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano or Ward D Councilman Michael Yun. The seven remaining council members voted in favor.
The Fulop administration’s new tax-abatement policy for the city allows downtown residential projects to get five-year tax breaks as long as developers offer to build pre-k centers; contribute 1.5 percent of gross construction costs for various city purposes, such as funding afterschool jobs for city teens; or commit 35 percent of the project’s jobs to city residents and purchase 35 percent of their materials from city vendors.
Commercial projects like the Hyatt House proposed for 1 Exchange Pl. can get tax breaks for up to 30 years under the policy, no matter where they are built in the city.

Free knitting lessons offered on June 21

Waterfront Community Church along with Jersey City Crafty Knitters is sponsoring a “Knit-In” to teach anyone who wants to learn how to knit. It will be a day of knitting, raffling off hand-knit items, collecting donations of yarn and knitting supplies, etc. Everyone who attends is asked to donate a hat, scarf or mittens to the group’s homeless project. All proceeds of donations go to the homeless program. Last year, the group donated 35 bags of hats, scarves and gloves to the homeless of Jersey City, and they’re hoping to expand the outreach program to the community by knitting. The date is June 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cosi, Washington Boulevard in Newport, across from the Pavonia/Newport Path Station.

Georgia man wins eighth annual Sinatra Idol contest

Gabriel Russo, 60, of Dahlonega, Ga., who remembers spending summers visiting with his grandparents on Park Avenue in Hoboken as a child, was crowned winner of the eighth annual Sinatra Idol Contest on Thursday, June 12 at the DeBaun Auditorium at the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Russo won in a sing-off over Charles Stayduhar Jr. of Pittsburgh, Pa., after the two had tied following judges’ voting. Russo’s rendition of “Come Fly with Me” clinched the victory for him.
Thirteen others competed, including the contest’s first ever woman entrant. In addition to Georgia, the performers hailed from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Florida.
Contestants representing Hudson County were Humphrey Uddoh of Jersey City and Joe Vozzella of Bayonne.
Guttenberg’s Mario Cruz, last year’s winner, began the evening with a performance and passed the trophy on to the 2014 winner. – Joseph Passantino

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